Use Cutting Tools Safely When Carving

When using cutting tools it’s all too easy for accidents to happen. Make sure you think ahead and carefully consider whether what you’re doing is safe. Here are a few tips from a bitter experience.

Always think about where the sharp bit will end up if you slip if the wood splits quicker than you’d expected, or whatever.

Always keep a safe distance from other people. I’m constantly amazed by people who walk within inches of someone who’s quietly sitting and carving, expecting them to notice and not stick them with the knife!

I’m also constantly amazed at the reverse – people who cheerily come and set up a foot away from you while they’re swinging an axe or using a knife. This makes me very nervous. I’d urge you to get nervous about this too!

For all cutting tools, a strong well-fitting sheath is a must. Leaving tools unsheathed or even stuck in a chopping block unattended is inviting an accident. Whenever not in use the blade should be sheathed. A great example of why this is important: last summer I was shaping a bow.

I put the drawknife down on the table – unsheathed of course “as I was only putting it down for a second” (sound familiar?!). Then I knocked over a cup of coffee, instinctively went to grab it, and ran my thumb along the unsheathed, and very sharp, drawknife blade. OUCH!

In my experience, the moment you think “this is a bit of a stupid thing to do” is most often a second or two before you do something that hurts. You’ve been warned…

Have fun and if you’re in doubt find someone who knows what they’re doing and get some instruction.